In Alabama Town, Offenders Must Choose Between Church And Jail

10073914-large“It was agreed by all the [area] pastors that the crime problem [is due to] the erosion of family values and morals.” Crime problem solved. Via the Washington Post:

Jail or Jesus. These are the options that one Alabama town is giving its non-violent offenders.

The program is called Operation Restore Our Community, WKRG reports. Bay Minette citizens charged with a misdemeanor can choose spending a year’s worth of Sundays in a local church rather than paying a fine and sitting in the clink.

Town police chief Mike Rowland…told the Alabama Press-Register: “It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

The stark choice has civil libertarians asking whether the initiative could be seen as government-coerced religion, which is forbidden under American law. The American Civil Liberties Union called the program “blatantly unconstitutional.”

One of the 56 participating pastors, Robert Gates, put that feeling into more biblical terms, telling WKRG, “You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I’ll show you a person who won’t be a problem to society.”

No mosques or synagogues are participating in the program because they do not exist in the area, according to the Press-Register.

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  • Drew

    Ron Bennington pointed out on the radio earlier that what is the difference between this & seeing a probation officer once a week, apart from the time involved.

  • Drew

    Ron Bennington pointed out on the radio earlier that what is the difference between this & seeing a probation officer once a week, apart from the time involved.

  • Wanooski

    Jail please.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Jail please.

  • Jin The Ninja

    This wouldn’t be problematic IF the accused were taught worthwhile ethics and morality….but i can only imagine what AL pastors would concoct/plagarise as “xtian ethics” and then cite (fraudently) as mathew 22:19.

  • Anonymous

    This wouldn’t be problematic IF the accused were taught worthwhile ethics and morality….but i can only imagine what AL pastors would concoct/plagarise as “xtian ethics” and then cite (fraudently) as mathew 22:19.

  • Nunzio X

    “Your Honor, I’ll take the ass rape instead of the mind rape, if you please.”

  • Nunzio X

    “Your Honor, I’ll take the ass rape instead of the mind rape, if you please.”

  • http://twitter.com/StayWithMe143 StayWithMe143

    not a bad idea

    • Garrett Schaefer

      no, a GODAWFUL one. 

  • http://twitter.com/MB_LOV MB_LOV

    not a bad idea

  • http://twitter.com/MB_LOV MB_LOV

    not a bad idea

  • Okarin

    get out of jail card, i never though i’d see it

    • Adam

      Kinda like the moral “get out of jail free” card that Christian salvation offers to douchebags.

  • Okarin

    get out of jail card, i never though i’d see it

  • DeepCough

    This isn’t gonna work, because now thieves can just go to church and ask for forgiveness every time they steal. This solution is even less effective than jail.

  • DeepCough

    This isn’t gonna work, because now thieves can just go to church and ask for forgiveness every time they steal. This solution is even less effective than jail.

  • http://twitter.com/GOB3S Garrett Schaefer

    no, a GODAWFUL one. 

  • Adam

    Kinda like the moral “get out of jail free” card that Christian salvation offers to douchebags.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    “You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I’ll show you a person who won’t be a problem to society.”

    So a little town in Alabama will change its drunk drivers and litterers into George Rekers, Ted Haggard, and Jimmy Swaggart? Like that would be more moral and upstanding than getting arrested for taking a leak behind a dumpster? I suppose if they feel sure that random buttsex, whores and drugs are a more upstanding example than the greybar hotel…they can try it if they like…but I think everyone else understands that an asshole who finds Jesus…is still an asshole…and a nice person with no religion…is still a nice person. I hope the ACLU sues the living shit out of them…pronto…or the next big conflict will be between prisonforprofit scum who need those state dollars per inmate and religious goons seeking forced converts.

    • E.B. Wolf

      “..or the next big conflict will be between prisonforprofit scum who need those state dollars per inmate and religious goons seeking forced converts.”
      Actually that’s a battle I’d love to see. I’d sit in church on Sundays rather than jail anytime. It doesn’t say you actually have to listen to their bullshit. I’d bring a set of headphones, a copy of Fear and Loathing, and try (no guarantees) not to snore.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    “You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I’ll show you a person who won’t be a problem to society.”

    So a little town in Alabama will change its drunk drivers and litterers into George Rekers, Ted Haggard, and Jimmy Swaggart? Like that would be more moral and upstanding than getting arrested for taking a leak behind a dumpster? I suppose if they feel sure that random buttsex, whores and drugs are a more upstanding example than the greybar hotel…they can try it if they like…but I think everyone else understands that an asshole who finds Jesus…is still an asshole…and a nice person with no religion…is still a nice person. I hope the ACLU sues the living shit out of them…pronto…or the next big conflict will be between prisonforprofit scum who need those state dollars per inmate and religious goons seeking forced converts.

  • http://www.xenex.org/ xen

    Right, because are no Christian in prison.  Heck,  was mugged by a guy wearing a big gold cross, but I am sure he didn’t go to church that Sunday, right?

  • http://www.xenex.org/ xen

    Right, because are no Christian in prison.  Heck,  was mugged by a guy wearing a big gold cross, but I am sure he didn’t go to church that Sunday, right?

  • Honu

    You just have to appreciate the ‘freedom loving’ folk who would shit a brick if say Obama were to intimate in the slightest that we consider more refined gun control laws. 

    Only in Alabama.  I have an idea.  How about consider the fact that the collective unemployment numbers in the US (approx 13.9 million, excluding the numbers of people who’ve given up looking for work which would increase that number) outnumber the individual populations of 46 states.  Maybe it’s the “job creators” and their endless search for the cheapest labor amidst record profits (for the fortune 500 at least) that have some responsibility in stirring up the great unwashed and let the Alabama officials look at them instead of blaming the victims.

  • Honu

    You just have to appreciate the ‘freedom loving’ folk who would shit a brick if say Obama were to intimate in the slightest that we consider more refined gun control laws. 

    Only in Alabama.  I have an idea.  How about consider the fact that the collective unemployment numbers in the US (approx 13.9 million, excluding the numbers of people who’ve given up looking for work which would increase that number) outnumber the individual populations of 46 states.  Maybe it’s the “job creators” and their endless search for the cheapest labor amidst record profits (for the fortune 500 at least) that have some responsibility in stirring up the great unwashed and let the Alabama officials look at them instead of blaming the victims.

  • E.B. Wolf

    “..or the next big conflict will be between prisonforprofit scum who need those state dollars per inmate and religious goons seeking forced converts.”
    Actually that’s a battle I’d love to see. I’d sit in church on Sundays rather than jail anytime. It doesn’t say you actually have to listen to their bullshit. I’d bring a set of headphones, a copy of Fear and Loathing, and try (no guarantees) not to snore.

  • KxBk6U

    I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didn’t work that way…so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness

    • Anarchy Pony

      You have stumbled onto the capitalist faith based business model.

    • Anubis Drake

      You could at least quote the author of that line.

  • KxBk6U

    I once prayed to god for a bike, but quickly found out he didn’t work that way…so I stole a bike and prayed for his forgiveness

  • Simiantongue

    If you’ve ever wondered why the US seems more fundamentalist or even just more religious overall than most European countries. It is, I believe, in large part due to the explicit separation between church and state in the US. It’s a double edged sword they are playing with when you mix church and state like they are in Alabama. To put it succinctly, it has arisen in the US that religion has had to survive on it’s own merit without government support. Unlike, oh I don’t know, say the Church of England for example.  The forefathers had many good reasons for this, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries” and many others. In the US with the separation of church and state, it has come about that religion has had to become much more zealous in it’s proselytizing and recruiting for membership because that is how church establishments survive here. More adherents means more support and money. In the good ole Church of England there is not a critical need for that as there is here in the US, because the church of England’s survival does not strictly depend on it, hence the CoE has tended to become fat and lazy. There the church is an integral part of government and as such recruitment is not strictly necessary for survival as long as they maintain a certain minimum level of adherents. Therefore religiousness in Europe overall has tended to die down over the last few centuries, if only gradually.

    Now, total disclosure here I’m an atheist. You would think the idea of government and church entanglement would be abhorrent to me. Like down in good ole Alabama here. But frankly I don’t really care about this in the least. I know some unthinking theists, the pastors in Alabama perhaps, might reckon this to be a grand idea for converting people to their theology. Always looking for ways to grow the flock and if they can skew the table in their particular denominations direction by having courts shoot a captive audience (pun intended) their way all the better right? And who knows maybe it is. But in the long run I know that the worst thing for religion is for that wall of separation between church and state to crack, then crumble. The separation is as much there for the protection of religion as it is those many other reasons Madison and Jefferson were thinking about. The forefathers were not completely dim you see. Yes, go right ahead and make your religious establishments reliant on something other than it’s own means. See if they can pass that test to stay self sufficient and solvent in the long run with levers of control outside of their religious establishments, by means of government funding so they become fat and lazy too. Don’t want to do as we say? No money for you. I would like to see nothing more than to see religion hang itself with it’s own greed, there is a certain irony in that.

    So yeah, in the long run I see nothing wrong with this type of program in Alabama, or a hundred others, or a thousand like it. It’ll work out in the end I’m sure. :)

  • Simiantongue

    If you’ve ever wondered why the US seems more fundamentalist or even just more religious overall than most European countries. It is, I believe, in large part due to the explicit separation between church and state in the US. It’s a double edged sword they are playing with when you mix church and state like they are in Alabama. To put it succinctly, it has arisen in the US that religion has had to survive on it’s own merit without government support. Unlike, oh I don’t know, say the Church of England for example.  The forefathers had many good reasons for this, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries” and many others. In the US with the separation of church and state, it has come about that religion has had to become much more zealous in it’s proselytizing and recruiting for membership because that is how church establishments survive here. More adherents means more support and money. In the good ole Church of England there is not a critical need for that as there is here in the US, because the church of England’s survival does not strictly depend on it, hence the CoE has tended to become fat and lazy. There the church is an integral part of government and as such recruitment is not strictly necessary for survival as long as they maintain a certain minimum level of adherents. Therefore religiousness in Europe overall has tended to die down over the last few centuries, if only gradually.

    Now, total disclosure here I’m an atheist. You would think the idea of government and church entanglement would be abhorrent to me. Like down in good ole Alabama here. But frankly I don’t really care about this in the least. I know some unthinking theists, the pastors in Alabama perhaps, might reckon this to be a grand idea for converting people to their theology. Always looking for ways to grow the flock and if they can skew the table in their particular denominations direction by having courts shoot a captive audience (pun intended) their way all the better right? And who knows maybe it is. But in the long run I know that the worst thing for religion is for that wall of separation between church and state to crack, then crumble. The separation is as much there for the protection of religion as it is those many other reasons Madison and Jefferson were thinking about. The forefathers were not completely dim you see. Yes, go right ahead and make your religious establishments reliant on something other than it’s own means. See if they can pass that test to stay self sufficient and solvent in the long run with levers of control outside of their religious establishments, by means of government funding so they become fat and lazy too. Don’t want to do as we say? No money for you. I would like to see nothing more than to see religion hang itself with it’s own greed, there is a certain irony in that.

    So yeah, in the long run I see nothing wrong with this type of program in Alabama, or a hundred others, or a thousand like it. It’ll work out in the end I’m sure. :)

  • Penguins4Life

    Right lets assume everyone is Christian. On top of that lets force it on other people. Sigh the hippocracy…

  • Penguins4Life

    Right lets assume everyone is Christian. On top of that lets force it on other people. Sigh the hippocracy…

  • Wanooski

    You have stumbled onto the capitalist faith based business model.

  • Anubis Drake

    You could at least quote the author of that line.

  • postpunkprometheus

    I wonder how many of their current jail system regulars were raised in church to begin with?  Full circular logic if you ask me

  • http://madmonq.wordpress.com madmonq

    I wonder how many of their current jail system regulars were raised in church to begin with?  Full circular logic if you ask me

  • http://madmonq.wordpress.com madmonq

    I wonder how many of their current jail system regulars were raised in church to begin with?  Full circular logic if you ask me

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